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The Day The Earth Stood Still

The Day The Earth Stood Still

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Timeless and influential
I love a good sci-fi movie as much as the next person, and I do have some favourites of the genre, Alien, Blade Runner, Empire Strikes Back, Metropolis and 2001:A Space Odyssey are wonderful movies, and like The Day the Earth Stood Still they not only have an influence on other movies of the genre and in general but also timeless classics in many more ways than one. The Day The Earth Stood Still has been a favourite since I first saw it and I still at 18 hold it in great regard. It still looks wonderful for its time, the effects and designs are wonderfully composed if purposefully simple and the cinematography is exemplary. Bernard Hermann’s score is tense and wondrous, the script is deft, Robert Wise’s direction is superb and while it has some solemn philosophical aspects and some heavy-handed symbolism neither of which are flaws in any way the story is compelling from start to finish. The acting is also impressive, Lock Martin is good as giant Gort but the real revelation is Michael Rennie’s authoritative, dignified and sympathetic Klatu. Overall, a sci-fi masterpiece.

You just can’t find better 50s sci-fi

A very very small number of 50s sci-fi films are truly perfect films and this is one of them–along with INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. Not only does this have wonderful production values and acting, but the story itself transcends the “bug-eyed monster” aspect of sci-fi and is metaphorical because it provides ample material we can apply to our own lives today. The aliens in this case are not mindless destroyers, beings intent on inseminating our women or out to do us serious harm–but they are also far from perfect themselves and I like this about the movie.

Michael Rennie (“Klaatu”) lands on the Mall in Washington, DC. And, humans being distrustful and stupid, take a friendly gesture on his part as an act of aggression and shoot him! Later, after escaping and hiding out among the humans to recuperate, Klaatu returns to warn humans to shape up or face annihilation by his planet because they are afraid of how dangerous humans are now that we have the bomb! Frankly, I think the writers of the film have good points–people ARE stupid and we came pretty darn close to destroying ourselves in the 1950s. Insightful, intelligent and with lasting appeal.

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